One: Xin Tian Di
Typical alley of Xin Tian Di district, Shanghai
Shikumen, the Stone gate houses on narrow alleys combining Western and Chinese element that occupied up to 60% of Shanghai housing that first appeared in 1860 now has drastically down sized to this small area called “Xin Tian Di” which means ” New heaven and Earth”. The old residential Shikumen building are now turned into beautifully designed restaurants, cafes and book stores earning a title: the very first ” Life style” center of China. As a matter fact, it’s rather romantic, quite and charming vibe rather loud and super touristy despite good amount international tourists enjoying the area eating and shopping!
Peeking into a restaurant, T8
Many of these Shikumen houses future lovely lovely window details. Never ending windows!
Then there’s this lovely open square area that houses many of outdoor and indoor seating restaurants, bars and cafes… It’s very cute and clean!
…and Lovely lush trees… I Love!
It’s bit touristy but also lovely and charming. It’s quite chilled and somehow reminds me of the film, In the mood for Love. If you are ever in Shanghai, stop by for a coffee and little shopping!
In the mood for love…
Two: Dongtai Lu Antique Market
Entrance of Dongtai Lu Antique market, Shanghai
Most of Shanghai’s old markets are gone, or converted to modern wares: clothing, watches, handbags and gadgets. But this long-running street bazaar specializing in reproduction of old antiques, crafts and traditional trinkets still abounds with atmosphere. And I have to say the real deal of this market is not actually the goods in the market, it’s the street and houses that is hosting the market around. Locals live right behind the market completely unveiling everyday life in Shanghai. Men arguing over games of cards, women gossiping amidst the constant clatter of mahjong tiles, down dusty lanes strewn with cages of singing birds and laundry drying on bamboo poles. It’s totally down to local and simply dirty but definitely interesting,
Three: Taikang Lu
Another preservation of Shikumen Architecture in Shanghai, Taikang Lu
Maybe this would be the one single best place to visit if you only had a few hours to explore Shanghai. This old Shikumen district turned to relatively low budget shopping and dinning area is filled with good mix of traditional Chinese knickknacks, local designers’ shops and plenty of small lively restaurants and cafes where you can taste Shanghainese and other international food such as Thai ( plenty of them), Japanese , French and much more. Little alley like streets are neatly packed with hole in the wall like shops to more design conscious boutiques where you can get beautiful teas and handmade scarves and such. Bright Red paper Chinese lantern definitely tells you where you are at the moment and adds bit of festivity to your good half day stroll to cover the whole district.
A cute Japanese yakiniku ( Table grill place).
Cobble stone and this herringbone stone tile are the 2 major materials covering the area.
There are many little witty touches in Taikang Lu. Maybe this is one place I felt I could read sort of what Today’s Shanghai’s Young generation is like.
Lane 248 was supposed to be bit more progressive than other alley, but honestly I didn’t find any differences here.
Somehow we were at sort of ” Food” area at this point. Cafes, restaurants, restaurants and more restaurants. This building has 2 open decks serving food semi al fresco on upper levels.
Rapidly growing Shanghai definitely shows a huge potential to become a metropolitan city yet I have surely experienced this undeniable gap between fast and fanciful materialistic growth and true culture to digest and own that material growth to a personal level. The culture that lives beneath your skin that is natural and that is real you. Right now, I see this massive bigger shell that is waiting for inner flash to grow and fill in and connect to become one, Shanghai as a true metropolitan city!
Till then, There will be needing of plenty of learning, researching and trying to live what that is ahead of Shanghai. It was a real eye opening experience for me and also I am excite for Shanghai to face endless possibilities to reborn and to reach as a next big star.